Family still searching for justice three years after newborn nearly dies

Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 01/30/2020, 5:31 PM
Edited: 03/11/2021, 10:22 AM
(DURANT, Okla.) “I just want justice for my grandson.”   Carolyn Ridling refuses to give up, more than three years after her grandchild was brought to the hospital with a traumatic brain injury. Colbert EMS brought the child to Texoma Medical Center with what was later discovered to be a bilateral subdural hemorrhage on January 12, 2017. He was only 11 weeks old at the time.   VNN obtained a copy of the offense report from the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office, who investigated the incident.   The report states the woman babysitting the child when the injury occurred, Diana Thomas, was investigated by Child Protective Services for operating an unlicensed daycare, and that what she told EMS personnel happened that day did not explain the injuries that Ridling’s grandchild received.   Thomas told investigators she was walking through the house in flip-flops and tripped and fell onto a blow-up mattress while holding the baby. She said she then buckled the baby into a rocking chair, and noticed soon after he was having trouble breathing.   When the ambulance arrived, he wasn’t breathing at all.   Ridling, a longtime employee of Texoma Medical Center, was there before the child was transferred to Dallas Children’s Hospital.   “Holding him that day, with doctors wanting to see him move or do something as he looked more and more like a rubber doll that you could buy at Walmart...” Ridling wrote in an open letter to Bryan County DA Emily Redman earlier this month, “As he was loaded onto the stretcher to be transferred to Dallas will forever be embedded into my eyes.”   Days later, deputies received a call from a doctor at Children’s Hospital stating there was “no way possible” the child could have received such extensive injuries from the explanation Thomas had given, and that they were more consistent with shaken baby syndrome.   During a second interview, Thomas told deputies she remembered dropping the baby on a couch, but this explanation, too, could not explain the extent of injuries he received.   The Bryan County Sheriff’s Office turned their report over to the Bryan County District Attorney’s Office on January 30, finding the injuries to be “highly concerning for abusive head trauma and child physical abuse”.   No charges have been filed since.   VNN reached out to the DA’s office for an update or explanation as to why. Assistant District Attorney Whitney Kerr responded.   Kerr told us the case is still under investigation, and another victim is potentially out there, from an earlier incident.   She said their office has had some issues with the case from the beginning, starting with the investigating officer leaving the sheriff’s office before the case was fully investigated.   Kerr said the statute of limitations is 12 years for cases like these, and they are still working on securing a medical expert to review all of the records to determine if, beyond a reasonable doubt, the baby’s injuries were caused by an intentional act before they decide to file charges.   “The family is understandably frustrated about the length of time this is taking, but given the severity of injuries to Tyler, and the uncertainties about how they’ll affect him long-term, I’m not rushing to file charges without knowing fully what all aspects of this case look like,” Kerr said.   “They have got more than one doctor from Children’s saying the same thing,” Ridling said. “I don’t think they need any more medical experts. Children’s Medical is the place for expert advice. I don’t understand it.”   Ridling said her grandson is now three years old, and just starting to talk.   VNN reached out to Thomas for her side of the story, but has yet to hear back.


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